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Mark Sanford is Interviewed about Impeachment; U.S. Base in Syria on the Frontlines; Sanders on Heart Attack Recovery and Campaign. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Republican lawmakers, you may have noticed, have been staying mostly silent on the impeachment investigation into President Trump. Just yesterday, GOP senator from Colorado, a swing state, Cory Gardner, twisted himself into rhetorical knots, avoiding questions about the president and Ukraine. Have a listen.


QUESTION: But the question is, is it appropriate for a president to be --

REP. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): Look, I think we are going to have an investigation. And it's a -- it's a non-partisan investigation.

QUESTION: To ask a foreign government to investigate?

But, Senator, it's a yes or no question.

GARDNER: It's a non-partisan investigation.

It's an answer that you get.

QUESTION: Is it OK for you to ask a foreign rival to investigate --

GARDNER: You know what I have said before.


GARDNER: You know what I've said before. This is about --

QUESTION: But you're not answering the -- we want to hear from you.

GARDNER: Look --


QUESTION: You're a smart guy. You know the debate.

GARDNER: This is about the politics of the moment and that's why they're trying to do this now.


SCIUTTO: Well, let's see.

Joining me now to discuss, Mark Sanford. He's a Republican presidential candidate and former congressman from South Carolina.

We appreciate you taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So you saw that interaction there. Painful, you might say. Why can't Republicans say simply it's wrong for a U.S. president to ask a foreign power for help in the election?

SANFORD: Because they don't want to be on the receiving end of a bad Trump tweet, end of story.


SANFORD: And I get that. I've been on the receiving ends of Trump tweets. It's not a pleasant place to be and it can have an electoral consequence.

SCIUTTO: But you, to your -- I mean I know you paid a political price for it. I know you did. But you had backbone there.

You have seen polling move somewhat. A Fox News poll, which, of course, we know the president noticed because he said that the poll sucks in a tweet. It showed that a majority -- and this was striking to me -- a majority of Americans support, not just impeachment, but removal from office, because that is, of course, quite -- would be quite consequential.

As that public support changes, do you see Republicans changing their tune?

SANFORD: Yes, but they'll be the last thing to break as the dominos fall, in terms of elected leadership. And so, you know, just watch public mood, public sentiment and that's going to drive the train. It always does in our process.

But our process is very slow moving. And people are reactive. It's not a proactive system. And they'll be very reactive and waiting and watching as to where people are. And even then they'll hold back based on fear of retribution from the president.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. To be clear, you noted on Sunday that you didn't know if the president needed to be impeached. Based on what we've learned just in the last 24 hours, you have the president's personal lawyer, two associates of him now arrested on charges of violating campaign finance laws, and the details of that are notable here because it's tied to the larger Ukraine story. You have them funneling foreign money to a sitting U.S. congressman who, they say, this was in exchange for him writing a letter to get Ambassador Yovanovitch, who the president opposed and apparently didn't feel she was doing him favors on the ground there. When you learn details like that, does that change your view on impeachment?

SANFORD: It becomes that much more troubling. I've said all along, I think what I hear sounds wrong to me. I believe that there ought to be an investigation. I agree with what Jim Clyburn said yesterday in terms of, again, let's go methodically through this process, find out what was there.

We have a system where in one is innocent until proven guilty. But, you know, where there's smoke, generally there's fire. And you see more and more smoke coming out of this story with, again, the things that you're just suggesting most recently.

What I've also said, though, is, one, let's be deliberate about the process. I think the House ought to take a vote first. That happens to be my opinion. That's what's happening, the previous three impeachment processes. But impeachment ultimately is a political process, not a legal one.


SANFORD: And my simple point in saying what I said with regard to censure was, if you -- what you don't want is to -- for the president to walk out of this process exonerated as if it's all fine. And for him to say, oh, the Senate didn't impeach me, sure enough I am completely innocent, because no matter where we go with this, it seems to me that you cannot set precedent going forward that this kind of behavior is acceptable and OK from a president, end of story.

And so my point with regard to censure is, there's clarity. The House can come out with a definitive statement. We believe this is wrong. And I think that makes it that much easier for, frankly, the people to make a firm judgment come next November on whether they think it was wrong or right.

My other, again, concern about the impeachment process is will it completely usurp all the conversation that should take place on the Republican and Democratic side as to what next November ought to be about.

CAMEROTA: Right. And that, of course, factors into the Democrats' desire to have the impeachment portion of this done by the holidays. We'll see if that's possible.

Governor Sanford, always a pleasure to have you on the program.

SANFORD: Yes, sir. A pleasure.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, coming up next, our Clarissa Ward takes you to the front lines of the Turkish incursion in northern Syria. We get access to an American base being protected by the Kurds.


[09:44:27] SCIUTTO: This morning Iran is investigating after one of its oil tankers was attacked off the coast of Saudi Arabia.

HARLOW: According to Iranian state television, the tanker was hit by two missiles. This happened near the Saudi port of Jeddah. Iran says the ship's crew is safe and the vessel is now moving. A series of attacks on oil tankers and production facilities has, of course, dramatically increased the tension in that region and caused oil prices to rise in recent months.

Turkey says more than 300 people have been killed in military operations in northern Syria.

SCIUTTO: It's amazing how quickly this has moved.

Nearly two dozen Kurdish fighters, remember Kurdish fighters who helped the U.S. defeat ISIS, among the dead.


Until recently, many of these Kurdish fighters fought alongside U.S. troops in some of the most dangerous clashes with ISIS fighters in Syria.

CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, she spoke to some of the American troops about the ongoing Turkish offensive.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So even though U.S. forces have pulled back from the border area where Turkey is staging this military operation, there are still U.S. military personnel deployed across parts of northern Syria.

We're here at one U.S. base. You can see in the distance there the American flag billowing.

And we want to try to get a sense from the Americans who are stationed here how they feel about the U.S.' decision to essentially allow President Erdogan of Turkey to go ahead and launch this military operation against the Kurds. The Kurds, of course, have been the U.S.' main ally on the ground in the battle against ISIS.

WARD: What's interesting to see is that even though this is a U.S. base, it's actually guarded and protected by Kurdish forces. You can imagine that things must be a little bit tense between them right now.

So, unsurprisingly, the Americans don't want to talk to us right now. Someone did come out to at least greet us. They were very polite, but they said due to the sensitive nature of their work here, they can't say a thing.

Just outside the base, you can see a poster to commemorate all the Kurdish fighters who have died in the battle against ISIS. Kurdish fighters have been telling us about the Americans. They feel that they've been sold out and that the U.S. is not going to do anything to help them in this fight against Turkey.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, northern Syria.


HARLOW: Clarissa, thank you.

Senator Bernie Sanders says he's recovering well. He is ready to get back to the campaign trail. Coming up, he sits down with our very own Dr. Sanjay Gupta after his heart attack to talk about his health and the future of his campaign.



HARLOW: All right, this morning, Vermont senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders says he is ready to go full blast back onto the campaign trail. This, of course, follows a heart attack that he suffered last week. Sanders sat down with our very own Dr. Sanjay Gupta to talk about his health and his recovery.

And Sanjay joins us now from Burlington, Vermont.

Sanjay, I'm so glad you had this time with him in person to see how he's doing.


HARLOW: What did you take away from it, and what did he tell you?

GUPTA: Well, yes, it was a really (INAUDIBLE) conversation because we got to better understand what happened exactly last Tuesday when he came away from that campaign rally and also what had been happening in the weeks leading up to that as well, Poppy. Take a listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I was more tired than I usually have been, had more troubling sleeping than ordinarily. Occasionally, I'd be up there at the podium and I'd feel a little bit unsteady. And, you know, one time I was just lifting -- literally holding the mic up to my arm and my arm hurt. Up to my mouth and my arm hurt. And I should have paid more attention to those symptoms. And I hope that people learn from my mistake.

GUPTA: Was there any are a point when you said, you know what, I think the best course of action may be to drop out?

SANDERS: No, because, you know, I don't know how -- again, I -- you know, when you hear the word "heart attack," you're thinking of someone lying on the ground in terrible pain. It wasn't the case.

We've struggled really hard to get to where we are right now, bring millions of people together in the fight for justice, and I'm not a quitter. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Poppy, you know, it was a very candid conversation. I mean, you know, people talking about their health, talking about the mortality, it can become very candid, as you might imagine. And it's worth pointing out, you know, when you have a muscle, the heart's a big muscle, it's not getting enough blood flow, that hurts. I mean that's the sort of symptoms the senator was describing. When you restore blood flow, people often feel better. And that's what he described as well. He'd been having this fatigue, these pains (INAUDIBLE) hold the mic with his left hand. Says he feels better. Recovery still in front of him, but feels better than he did certainly at the beginning of last week.

HARLOW: Sanjay, if Bernie Sanders were your patient, and, you know, I know that you're a neurosurgeon, but would you advise him to get back on the campaign train full throttle and did you get real clarity from him on what he says he misspoke about when he said earlier in the week he was scaling back and then says, no, actually I'm not.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, it's still a little bit confusing, but I think what's driving this, Poppy, is ultimately what he's hearing from his doctors sounds like is that he will get back to -- he's expected to make a full recovery. Eventually get back to 100 percent. But not right now.

And there is the nuance a little bit. You know, four campaign rallies a day is probably not going to happen for the next few weeks certainly. But the goal -- you know, the goal of these procedures, Poppy, the doctor talking to a patient is, ultimately we want to get you back to your way of life. We want to extend your life, we want to prevent a heart attack, all that sort of stuff, we want to get you back to your way of life.



GUPTA: And that's what, I think, the doctors have told Senator Sanders, that's what he's hearing and that's where that, I think, confusion came from.

HARLOW: OK. Sanjay, great interview. People can watch all of it online. Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Always good to have Sanjay's perspective there.

We are waiting for the former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine to arrive on Capitol Hill where she will face tough questions from three House committees. Will her testimony shed more light on everything we're learning about Ukraine right now? It's important testimony. We'll keep you updated.